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Full text of "NightRider"

379

into the hall from a street light in the alley. He let himself
down the ladder, quickly. He did not have time to look into
the alley before he stepped out. He scarcely cared what was
there. The old negro man with the lantern, that was what
he was fleeing from, it seemed.

No one was in the alley. He moved down the alley, away
from the light, trying not to run. He put his tongue out
on his dry lips, and thought of water.

They would be watching the roads. He couldn't go out
any road. He would have to work down the alleys, and try
to get out to the fields through back yards and ditches. That
was his chance.

It worked. It was not much more than an hour till light
when he got out past the last houses. He managed to reach
a patch of woods beyond the first field, crawling part of the
way in an old ditch, then following an osage hedge for cover.
In the woods he ran wildly through the whipping under-
brush and the snatching briars. At the edge of the woods he
found a stock pond. He lay in the trampled mud of the
edge, with the cold mud sliding up between his fingers and
covering his hands, and drank. He lay on the mud then,
closed his eyes, and felt that he could never get up. But after
a while he opened his eyes. The dark trees were there, and
above, the sky, where light now grew. Those things were
there in a stark purity, an emptiness, an innocence, a primal
namelessness. He lay, feeling the slow, minute suction of the
mud beneath his body, and stared at the treetops, the heave
of the dark mass on the sky. The light was growing on the
sky. His mind named that: light.

He got up and went on.

He found a garden patch near a cabin at the edge of the
woods, and stuffed his pockets with lettuce and young onions.
He ate some of the onions as he went along. He covered two
or three miles down a lane, where he had the cover of a
hedge, before it was too near day to be safe. He hid in another
patch of woods all day. There was a ditch in the woods, and
he drank some water from it. He ate the lettuce and the